Herb: Californian Allspice

Latin name: Calycanthus occidentalis

Synonyms: Calycanthus macrophyllus

Family: Calycanthaceae (Sweetshrub Family)

Medicinal use of Californian Allspice:

The bark is expectorant. A decoction of the fresh or dried bark has been used in the treatment of sore throats, severe colds and stomach disorders.

Description of the plant:


3 m
(9 3/4 foot)

June to


Habitat of the herb:

Banks of streams, ponds and other wet places below 1200 metres.

Edible parts of Californian Allspice:

The aromatic bark is dried and used as a substitute for cinnamon and all spice.

Other uses of the herb:

A light brown dye is obtained from the flowers. The wood and the bark from fresh shoots has been used in basket making.

Propagation of Californian Allspice:

Seed - best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. If the seed is harvested "green" (as soon as it has fully developed but before it has dried on the plant) and sown immediately it can germinate in 3 weeks. Dried seed germinates in 1 - 6 months at 15C. Stored seed requires between 3 weeks and 3 months cold stratification before sowing in the spring. When large enough to handle, prick out the seedlings into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. They can be difficult. Layering in spring. Sever the new plants in a wet spell of weather about 15 months later and then lift them in the autumn. High percentage. Division of suckers in early spring. Very easy, they can be planted straight out into their permanent positions if required.

Cultivation of the herb:

Banks of streams, ponds and other wet places below 1200 metres.

Known hazards of Calycanthus occidentalis:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.